Night after night, out there in the moonlight, Something was trying to get in at the bedroom window. A huge malevolent Something. Something not of this world. Inside, Toby Jugg, a wounded Battle of Britain pilot, thought first that he was hallucinating, then that he must be going mad, finally that this evil Something was real and striving to reach him. So begins what is probably Dennis Wheatley’s most terrifying story of the supernatural. The struggle which ensues brought Toby unexpected help but also ungues treachery as it moves inexorably towards an appalling confrontation and seemingly inevitable catastrophe. No wonder Dennis Wheatley was called “The Prince of Thriller Writers”.
I decided to invest in ‘The Haunting of Toby Jugg’ after watching ‘The Haunted Airman’ (which is based on ‘The Haunting of Toby Jugg’), which was really good viewing. I was expecting the book to be similar to the film and there was some similarities, the intensity of the story and of course the claustrophobic feelings of the narrator Toby Jugg but the film lacked the supernatural feel the book has.
‘The Haunting of Toby Jugg’ tells the story of Toby Jugg, a young RAF pilot who is shot in the back and suffers a spinal injury during a mission and is now confined to a wheelchair, something which Toby finds frustrating and demeaning. On the advice of his family and doctor he is sent to one of his many family’s homes to recover and that is when the haunting of Toby Jugg begins.
The story is written in diary form, the diary of Toby Jugg from the beginnings of his troubles until the very end, which makes really interesting reading, Dennis Wheatley writes in such a way that you quickly become engrossed. You share all of Toby’s fears, triumphs and failures, while at the same time slowly unravelling the reason for the haunting, is it really all in Toby’s mind?, an after affect of his war experiences?, Toby questions myself but at the same time knows what he is seeing, which of course frustrates him even more when the over-powering Helmuth (a family friend), Deb (Toby’s nurse), his Uncle Paul and his Aunt Julia (his only family) do not believe him. Toby feels more and more isolated as no one believes what is happening to him. The best part of the diary is the fact you learn about Toby’s background which makes interesting reading.
At times Toby is very funny, his off hand comments are entertaining and a few times I laughed out loud.
The only downside about the book was that Toby was quite racist but given the time that the book was written in, it makes sense, not good sense but sense, the book is still enjoyable, however, and Dennis Wheatley is excellent at writing good old fashioned supernatural and horror. Also the book is quite slow at the start but that just adds to the tension, which I loved.
I am planning to read more Dennis Wheatley titles. If you get the opportunity, read the book and watch the film, then make your comparisons.
Rating: 9/10 (because of the racist comments)
Reviewed by Gyre/Heen